China Details Future Moon Plans, Including Polar Research Station

Adjust Comment Print

The lander has successfully sprouted small cotton plants as part of a biological experiment.

Late on January 3, China's newest lunar rover - nicknamed the Jade Rabbit - rolled off its lunar lander and onto the far side of the moon.

The "dark" side of the Moon may soon have a variety of vegetation growing there as China has begun its 100-day experiment to grow plants on the lunar surface. Xie Gengxin, the experiment's designer and the dean of the Institute of Advanced Technology at Chongqing University told the South China Morning Post.

In an attempt to better understand how plants and animals could grow and live on the lunar surface, Chongqing University equipped the Chang'e 4 lander with a "mini-biosphere" experiment, which is created to be a self-sustaining ecosystem, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua. So far the other seeds and the eggs have not shown signs of life, but that could change within a matter of days.

More news: Angry MS Dhoni hurls expletive aimed at Khaleel Ahmed during Adelaide ODI

The seeds include cotton, rapeseed, and potatoes.

First, it's a wolf moon, a traditional name for full moons in winter. This week, China announced yet another historic first that has long-lasting implications for manned space exploration in the future: China is growing plants on the Moon.

Images sent back by the probe show a cotton sprout has grown well, but so far none of the other plants has taken, the university said.

After its successful landing on the moon earlier this month, the Chang'e-4, a lander weighing 1.3 tons, planted potato seeds and placed silkworm eggs in a chamber and are sustained by natural light and nutrition on the moon.

More news: Oh come on, that's no way to treat long-term back pain

The plants grow inside a 18cm tall canister, designed by 28 Chinese universities, that has an air supply, water and nutrients. For example, potatoes serve as a good source and can make rapeseed oil which is similar to canola oil. The growth period of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, is short and easy to observe.

More than 170 pictures have been taken by the cameras and sent back to Earth, according to the team.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shared its glee on Twitter, saying, "China's moon mission success means that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space!"

"China will carry out its first-ever exploration mission to Mars around 2020", he said.

More news: Turkey seeks extradition, arrest of National Basketball Association player for alleged terrorist connection

Some space and global affairs analysts estimated that China's forays into lunar exploration could inspire a new space race of sorts.